“Let our rigorous testing and reviews be your guidelines to A/V equipment – not marketing slogans”
Facebook Youtube Twitter instagram pinterest

SVS 3000 In-Wall Subwoofer Review

by May 18, 2024
SVS 3000 In-Wall Subwoofer

SVS 3000 In-Wall Subwoofer

  • Product Name: 3000 In-Wall Subwoofer
  • Manufacturer: SVS Sound
  • Performance Rating: StarStarStarStar
  • Value Rating: StarStarStarStar
  • Review Date: May 18, 2024 00:05
  • MSRP: $ 2,000/each (single), $3,000/each (double)
  • Frequency Response: 22hz to 250hz +/-3dB
  • Woofer: Dual 9” high excursion driver
  • Design Type: Sealed in-wall
  • Amplifier Power: 800 watts RMS, 2500 watts Peak
  • Amplifier Type: High efficiency Class D with DSP
  • Connectivity: RCA
  • Dimensions: 26.75” H x 12” W X 3.74” D
  • Weight: 25.5 lbs
  • Warranty: 5-year unconditional warranty


  • Compact design fits in standard 2x4 stud wall, can be retrofitted
  • Good midbass performance
  • Excellent amplifier with well executed limiters
  • Great app for setup and calibration
  • Real bass down to mid-20hz range
  • It is a genuinely good sounding subwoofer within its limits


  • Not a lot of deep bass output
  • Won’t be sufficient for high performance home theater use


SVS 3000 in roomSVS recently announced and introduced their first architectural product, an in-wall subwoofer. Known for their high-quality, high-performing, and high-value box subwoofers, this move came as a surprise. SVS has traditionally been a direct sales company, only recently expanding into dealer networks. In-wall subwoofers typically cater to integrators, marking a significant step for SVS in partnering with integrators.

However, considering SVS's expertise in crafting exceptional box subwoofers, I wondered if their in-wall subwoofers could achieve the same level of performance. At $1,999 for a single subwoofer and amplifier, or $2,999 for two subwoofers and an amplifier, this product is competitively priced for the market, though not inexpensive. To discover my thoughts on the new 3000 series in-wall subwoofers, read on.

SVS 3000 In-Wall Subwoofer Unpacking Appearance and Design

The unboxing experience of an in-wall subwoofer is quite unique. It arrives in a relatively large but thin box, designed to seamlessly fit within the wall. The subwoofer itself may seem unremarkable at first glance, featuring a black metal box and a metal grill. This discreet design is intentional, as in-wall subwoofers are meant to be hidden. Despite its simplicity, the build quality of this SVS subwoofer not only matches but exceeds its price point.

SVS Sub profile

On the front plate, two custom-designed 9" drivers catch your attention. The additional inch in diameter aids in increasing displacement while maintaining a compact size to fit between standard studs. The front plate is also equipped with dog legs and holes, facilitating easy attachment to studs when proximity  to the studs becomes a concern for the dog legs—an excellent feature that I wish more in-wall subwoofers incorporated.


A tap on the back box reveals a compact volume and solid damping. SVS's use of aluminum for certain parts of the back box allows for a thinner enclosure wall, maximizing internal volume. The enclosure cleverly combines MDF and aluminum, leveraging MDF for superior damping and aluminum for the front and back to reduce thickness, accommodate larger drivers, and create a thinner bezel/baffle on the wall.

Both drivers are active, in a sealed enclosure. This design choice necessitates that the drivers handle significant power and exhibit high excursion, evident from their large rubber surrounds. The subwoofer's appearance exudes a business-like seriousness, and while SVS claims that the drivers have optimized motor assemblies to deliver powerful impact, some of SVS’s marketing materials feel somewhat exaggerated. It's important to note that, despite the large roll surrounds, these drivers may not achieve the excursion of deeper drivers found in most box subwoofers within a similar price range, primarily due to space limitations.

Amp Front

The included amplifier, SVS's proprietary Sledge STA-800D2C, boasts 800 watts RMS and 2500 watts peak, powered by discrete MOSFET output devices. Throughout testing, the subwoofer amplifier remained cool. The Sledge amplifier is compatible with SVS's smart control app, allowing convenient adjustment of various parameters. The app provides three bands of PEQ, suitable for most users to achieve excellent sound—a feature I appreciate and wish all in-wall subwoofers possessed. Additionally, the amplifier supports the addition of a second subwoofer, offering an economical dual subwoofer solution.

From an installation standpoint, SVS has taken an approach that I admire but one that presents challenges. By maintaining a compact subwoofer enclosure, it works well in both existing and new constructions. Unlike many in-wall subwoofers that mandate a back-box installation before drywall placement, SVS eliminates this requirement. However, the tradeoff is a smaller box size. While other in-wall subwoofer boxes may reach 5 feet in height, this box measures less than 27" tall. This makes installation in a retrofit situation possible, but it also means that the small box volume pushes the Fs way up into the midbass and limit low bass output. The actual impact on sound quality is yet to be discussed. Read on to discover my thoughts on this matter.

SVS 3000 In-Wall Subwoofer Listening Tests

The SVS 3000 in-wall subwoofer delivered with pride...

To provide a concise overview of the listening tests for this subwoofer, it's essential to establish the appropriate context. Featuring two 9" drivers, this subwoofer offers a displacement comparable to a 12" cone. However, its small enclosure size means it operates at or below its resonant frequency (Fc), measured at just 77Hz during testing. It's crucial to understand that this isn't a powerful, high-output wall subwoofer, nor can it be directly compared to a robust 12" in-wall subwoofer. Instead, it stands out as a well-engineered example of in-wall subwoofers with acknowledged limitations.

With a depth of only 3.5" and a 27" tall enclosure, my initial expectations, fueled by somewhat exaggerated press claims, were unrealistic. Initially replacing a pair of 13.5" in-wall subwoofers with this single unit, hoping for superior performance, I found it did not surpass them. However, the actual outcome was quite good. The bass proved remarkably clean and tight within its limits, with measurable extension down to 20Hz. Nevertheless, it became evident that it had its boundaries, not reaching the high levels a bass enthusiast might desire.

During the test with Tones and I's "Dance Monkey," the clean bass performance impressed me. Many in-wall subwoofers often feature outdated designs with limited low-bass output. Yet, at moderate to somewhat loud volumes, my family and I enjoyed dancing in the family room while listening to this song. The SVS subwoofer delivered with pride, and I didn't feel like I was missing out. In fact, when compared to my usual Definitive Technology in-wall subwoofers, I preferred the sound of the SVS sealed subwoofer. The bass was tighter, cleaner, and had serious mid-bass slam.

tones and i  testdrive

To further explore its capabilities, I tested the subwoofer with Tiesto's "10:35," known for its great bass. Once again, I found myself favoring the sound produced by the SVS subwoofer over my current in-wall units. However, this comparison highlighted the inherent limitations of in-wall subwoofers, leading me to conduct two other comparisons.

First, I brought out my Syng Cell Alpha speakers and placed all three systems in the family room, using Airplay 2 to switch between them. Focusing on the bass, the Syng Cell, with its six subwoofer drivers, had more bass and offered a superior sound experience. Naturally, this was expected given the Syng Cell's greater driver displacement. However, the SVS did a commendable job in its own right. While not matching the Syng Cells, it provided a similar experience, which was quite impressive.

Others have raved about the SVS 3000 in-wall subwoofer, extolling its performance as a standout in home theaters. Yet, I approached my assessment with realism, recognizing that my comparison to reference in-wall subwoofers would be inherently unfair. Thus, understanding the purpose and boundaries of the SVS subwoofer was paramount.

In my evaluation, I pitted it against a pair of towering RBH Sound in-wall subwoofers, each boasting dual 12" drivers and over 2000 watts RMS each. These behemoths are akin to replacing two sealed 18" subwoofers with a single 12 inch subwoofer. Additionally, I had on hand a pair of Definitive Technology reference series in-wall subwoofers featuring a 13.5” subwoofer and 13.5” passive radiator. While the SVS didn't quite reach the apex of absolute performance, its performance was good, albeit in a much more discreet form factor, which underscores the allure of in-wall subwoofers.  When not trying to push this to reference levels, the overall experience was every bit as good as I get from my reference system.  THe bass was clean, articulate, and well extended.


One of the most arduous tests involved subjecting the system to the opening scene of the latest Top Gun movie, where a prototype jet hurtles through the sky at Mach 10. This sequence is notoriously demanding, often causing distress for lesser speakers and subs. However, in my family room equipped with Definitive Technology in-wall speakers and the SVS in-wall subwoofer, the SVS rose to the challenge admirably. It tackled the scene without strain or unsightly artifacts, thanks to its effective protection mechanisms, delivering the best performance within its capabilities. This stood in stark contrast to my experience with the Definitive Technology subs, which tended to falter under similar stress. While the SVS couldn't match the sheer visceral impact of high-performance theater setups, it acquitted itself admirably, surpassing my initial expectations. No this was not delivering reference level bass, and were that my requirement, this isn't what I would choose.  However, you shouldn't expect that to be the case either.

Through further experimentation with various movie scenes and musical selections, it became apparent that the SVS excels in reproducing low bass up to a certain threshold, albeit without reaching reference-level performance. However, it truly shines when operating within its comfort zone, delivering deep bass extension down to the 20Hz range, particularly noticeable at lower volume levels. Yet, when pushed to its limits, it didn't exhibit a significant increase in volume and lacked the sheer punch expected from larger subs. Because I often don't listen to music much beyond 80-85dB, and rarely watch movies at reference level in my family room, this often delivered most of what I wanted and expected.

Concluding thoughts on this subwoofer are straightforward. If you anticipate the in-wall subwoofer to match a dual 10” box subwoofer, you'll be disappointed. Such expectations can lead to feeling ripped off and questioning positive reviews. The SVS 3000 in-wall can't perform at that level. However, if you approach it with realistic expectations, recognizing it as a well-engineered in-wall subwoofer that expertly balances tradeoffs, you'll be impressed. Few competitors offer the level of extension and control that the SVS provides. While I haven't reviewed many other retrofit subwoofers in this price class, the SVS stands out as the best I have heard and seen. It excels at extending in-wall or box speakers down to the bottom octaves, even though it might not play as loudly as some good box subwoofers of a similar price. Context is crucial, and considering the options, the SVS 3000 in-wall is a commendable product.

My initial challenge in reviewing this product was letting the hype influence my expectations. Setting aside inaccurate assumptions, overcoming initial disappointment, and evaluating the product from a realistic perspective resulted in a more accurate assessment.

SVS 3000 In-Wall Subwoofer Measurements & Analysis

SVS 3000 IWI conducted testing on the SVS 3000 In-wall subwoofer in the front yard of my house, maintaining a minimum distance of 34 feet from any barriers. This distance ensured accurate measurements down to 25Hz. At a separate location in the middle of the street, I performed a free air measurement of the subwoofer's response. The results showed no significant evidence of reflections corrupting the measurements from 25Hz and above, with a small but possible reflection detected at 20Hz. Therefore, the CEA-2010 data is considered valid from 25Hz and above, meeting the reporting requirements.

During the testing, the microphone was positioned at a distance of 1 meter to maintain a high signal-to-noise ratio. The outdoor temperature was 86 degrees Fahrenheit, with low wind conditions. The ambient noise levels were measured at 48dBA and 54dBC, consistent with previous outdoor testing environments. I used a NIST traceable BSWA P48 powered ½" measurement microphone connected to an RME Babyface FC interface. The sound pressure levels (SPL) were calibrated using a Larson Davis 250Hz calibrator, and the testing software employed was the REW CEA-2010 app.

A Note About Microphone Variability in SPL Testing

Through extensive comparative testing involving different environments, microphones, and software, we have observed variations of up to 5dB. It is important to note that absolute accuracy and test reliability/consistency differ significantly. While we strive for reliability in our testing, asserting accuracy is not possible in this particular case. I caution against making close comparisons between these values and those from tests conducted by James Larson or any other reviewer. James and I have conducted comparative testing using the same location and equipment but found slight differences of 1-2dB at the lowest frequencies. We have also encountered larger variations when comparing our tests with those conducted by others.

Additionally, all testing is referenced to 2M RMS, which requires subtracting 9dB from the 1M peak obtained during testing. Although the 2M RMS has become a standard among reviewers, it is not the CEA-2010 reporting standard. Finally, to ensure accuracy, the microphone was tested for SPL accuracy using the NIST traceable calibrator both before and after the test. It consistently measured 114dB during both tests and exhibited 0.1% THD at both times, indicating that 114dB was well below the limits of the test gear at 250Hz. 

SVS 3000 In wall CEA-2010 Burst Test Measurements 2M RMS
Frequency (Hz) SPL (dB) Harmonic Limit and %
12.5 N/A No passing result possible
16 N/A No passing result Possible
20 81.1 7.75% 3rd, noise/boundary limited*
25 86.2 16.3% 3rd
31.5 91.5 16.8% 3rd
40 100.5 29.6% 2nd, 13.2% 3rd, Amp limited
50 106.1 20.5% 2nd Harmonic
63 110.2 17.1% 2nd Harmonic, Amp limited
80 117.2 5.19% 2nd harmonic, Amp limited
100 117.5 8.19% 2nd Harmonic, Amp Limited
125 116.7 10.5% 2nd Harmonic, Amp Limited

*20hz is below the minimum frequency my space can measure and is subject to possible boundary interference.  Some noise spurs were detected in the measurement causing it to fail and it is unclear the cause of those spurs.  However, the waveform captured also showed some deformations that, while not uncommon in these tests, may have also been a result of a boundary effect. As such, I have provided the result that looked most correct.  It is possible that the true number is a few dB higher or lower.

The results from the CEA-2010 test were shared with Ed Mullen and the SVS engineering team.  The response I received were that my results are within a dB or so of their results down to 31.5hz, but at 20hz and 25hz my results were a few dB lower.  It is possible the correct value is higher or it is possible there are some small inaccuracies in the microphones.  We ultimately decided not to retest (the subwoofer was tested a total of three times in two locations to obtain the results and the results obtained are the highest trustworthy values we saw). 

 103dB SPL Freq Resp

Figure 1: Linear Sweep

The frequency response measurement at 103dB showed a fairly flat response and a -10dB point at 23.6hz.  The upper end of the response was subject to a fixed lowpass filter inherent in the subwoofer amplifier (and in most subwoofers).

106dB SPL Freq Resp

Figure 2: High output Sweep

In the above graph, I have increased the drive level by around 3 dB.  The first measurement shows the response near its limit for a flat response and the extra 3dB shows that the SPL increased above 65hz only.  Everything below this point stayed the same in output, showing the effect of compression.

In fact, an accidental sweep at around 115dB (or what should have been around 115dB) produced a fairly ugly looking graph that does a good job reflecting what the compression behavior is like.

Figure 3 Raw Compression

Figure 3: Raw Compression Data

I did a compression test from 85dB through 105dB, where I saw the 3dB change in response, indicating the compression limit.  However, I also swept at 115dB, by accident, as mentioned before, and so this graphic reflects that behavior, which makes very clear what is happening between its fully linear range and its maximum output range.  That big peak around 80hz is due to the resonance frequency of the box/driver giving rise to a small area of maximum efficiency.

Figure 4 Compression Sweeps


Figure 4: Compression Sweeps

In addition, I have included the distortion of the SVS subwoofer.  By 105dB the distortion below 30hz was approaching 100%, so I have included distortion at 85dB and 95dB to make clear how the distortion is rising.  As can be seen, the driver runs out of excursion around 30hz, which is where we see the distortion rise dramatically.  Below 30hz the subwoofers limiters and high pass filter are providing protection to prevent as much overloading.  When pushed to 115dB it was found that distortion rose below 30hz to near 100% 3rd harmonic and the built in protection was insufficient to prevent this rise.  

Figure 5 Dist 85 

Figure 5: Distortion at 85dB

Figure 6 Dist 95

Figure 6: Distortion at 95dB

I performed an impedance sweep using the DATS V3.  It showed an impedance peak at about 77hz, the Re is 5.145 ohms, and the Le is 1.37mh.  All of this shows good behavior with no obvious signs of problems or resonances in the operating range.  The two take-aways are that with such a high Fs, the subwoofer operates at or below it’s Fs nearly all of the time.  The net effect of that is that distortion is substantially lower at that resonance frequency, which we normally prefer to have near the low end of its operating range.  Second is that the Re is higher than I expected, I had assumed this would have a lower impedance, but with the amplifier being a required accessory, this is not a concern for the end user.  Finally, the inductance is low enough that users need not worry about excessive rolloff or distortion caused by the inductance.  That likely helps explain the very good midbass efficiency.  

Impedance Curve


Figure 7: Impedance Sweep

SVS 3000 Group Delay

Figure 8. Group Delay

The group delay measurements exhibit generally satisfactory performance down to 60Hz. However, below this range, there's a noticeable escalation in group delay. Specifically, the SVS subwoofer surpasses one cycle of group delay around 35Hz to 40Hz and exceeds two cycles by 30Hz. While this level of group delay is relatively high for a sealed subwoofer, it stems from various design decisions made by the SVS team.
Firstly, a significant EQ boost at low frequencies contributes substantially to the observed group delay. Additionally, it's probable that a highpass filter is employed on the subwoofer for protection purposes. While this arrangement represents a compromise, it's crucial to acknowledge that a subwoofer prone to distortion would present a more significant issue than one with elevated group delay.
Although some may argue that SVS subwoofers tend to exhibit excessively high group delay, not all reviewers, even within Audioholics, share this perspective on its audibility or detrimental effects. Rectifying the group delay issue would likely necessitate compromising performance in more perceptible ways. The current design, with its small box volume and substantial EQ adjustments, seems optimized given the circumstances.
While it's important to note the presence of elevated group delay, it's equally vital to recognize that there are other concerns of greater significance. Anyone purchasing and using this subwoofer really needs to be more focused on the subwoofer integration, frequency response, and at limit behavior.  These group delay concerns would only likely be of any consequence under the most ideal of conditions. Overall, I consider this issue a minor quibble and believe it represents an appropriate design choice considering the available alternatives.

Bottom Line on CEA-2010 Test Results

What do we make of these results?  Well, the CEA-2010 results would be considered pretty lackluster if our goal was to compare this to a standard box subwoofer.  The SVS SB-3000 achieved 104.8dB at 31.5hz, whereas this subwoofer, with similar cone area, achieved just 91.2dB.  That is a more than 13dB difference.  But you have to remember that this is basically a microsub in the wall, its resonant frequency is around 77 hz and it operates almost completely below this point.  All of its output is achieved in conjunction with DSP response shaping.  No matter how much driver displacement you have, with a box this small, there are going to be serious limits in output.  If not for the DSP this subwoofer would have rolled off substantially starting at around 80hz and nobody would have thought this much of a subwoofer.  Through the DSP response shaping we get a good response shape with clear extension down to the mid-20hz range.  With room gain we can easily expect usable output down to 20hz.  What we can’t expect is to achieve such bass extension at particularly high output levels.  .  Namely, the SVS subwoofer achieves the Audioholics Small Room Bassaholic rating. To be fair, we should never have expected anything else.  Further, we see minor issues in the performance in other ways, such as the high group delay, but again, the audible effect of this group delay is likely subtle as compared with other detriments that would have been introduced had they not utilized such response shaping and protection mechanisms.

SVS 3000 In-Wall Subwoofer Conclusion

SVS 3000 closeAll of this, the music listening and the movie tests lead me to two conclusions about this product.  First and most important, if you expected this to be a replacement for good box subwoofers in a moderate to high output home theater, you probably will be disappointed.  That isn’t what this is.  There are some in-wall subwoofers that can reproduce cinema reference levels down to below 20hz.  They are much bigger and much more expensive.  They cannot be retrofitted into existing walls like the SVS can and they likely will cost at least 50% more.  As I mentioned earlier, I had thought that maybe this would have sufficient output that four of them might give you reference levels, but the subwoofer output in the bottom octave and a half (20hz to 60hz) is compromised enough that even four won’t equal one or two really good box subwoofers. 

Having said that, my second conclusion was that this is very well engineered for what it is.  The amplifier and limiters are well implemented.  The subwoofer doesn’t distress easily under typical usage.  It actually does produce bass all the way down to 20hz and while it doesn’t produce it at very high levels, for a lot of normal usage, it does it well enough.  In a more casual home theater and music setup consisting of smaller bookshelves or typical in-wall speakers, a pair of these in-walls would be a very good discrete solution.  In fact, I can’t think of a better retrofit subwoofer option.  When evaluated on the basis of in-wall retrofit subwoofers, I believe this to be the best option on the market that I have tested.  In actual use, and not just looked at under lab conditions, I found it to sound surprisingly punchy and extended.  The quality of bass it reproduced was excellent and rarely left me wanting for more.  It was only when I pushed it well past its limits, asking it to be something it’s not, that I ran into problems.  As I mentioned earlier in the review, I made the mistake of reading a lot of the press material and other reviews of this subwoofer before I ever used it.  I knew SVS had a good reputation for engineering and significant capability to design and engineer good products with custom drivers.  That lead me to believe I was going to be testing a physics-defying in-wall subwoofer in which a tiny enclosure, barely larger than the two very low profile drivers, would be able to reproduce low distortion and high-output deep bass.  I love the concept of in-wall subwoofers as it lets me place them almost anywhere I want and I thought this might be a good low-cost option for an in-wall in high performance home theaters.  I quickly realized that line of thinking was wrong, that this subwoofer couldn’t do that, but that it shouldn’t be expected to. 

Once I reset my perspective and expectations, I came to realize the virtues of the SVS 3000 in-wall.  It’s a very good and very well engineered retrofit in-wall subwoofer and it likely is the best of its type on the market.  If you are in the market for a good in-wall subwoofer in the $2000 price range, and where retrofitting is an important part of the design requirement, this is the subwoofer I would recommend to you.    

The Score Card

The scoring below is based on each piece of equipment doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating roughly equal to:

Performance × Price Factor/Value = Rating

Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.

Audioholics Rating Scale

  • StarStarStarStarStar — Excellent
  • StarStarStarStar — Very Good
  • StarStarStar — Good
  • StarStar — Fair
  • Star — Poor
Bass ExtensionStarStarStarStar
Bass AccuracyStarStarStarStarStar
Build QualityStarStarStarStar
Fit and FinishStarStarStarStar
Ergonomics & UsabilityStarStarStarStar
Dynamic RangeStarStarStar
About the author:
author portrait

Matthew has spent the better part of the last two decades studying acoustics and good sound reproduction. He provides down to earth explanations of complex scientific topics related to audio reproduction.

View full profile